News News News
ACUPUNCTURE IN HEAD AND NECK CANCER
Patients who have head and neck cancer frequently suffer from pain and dry mouth following surgery and radiation treatment. A randomized and controlled study of 70 patients at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center indicated that weekly acupuncture treatment improved pain in 39%, versus 7% in the control group.
Acupuncture was also found to be significantly more effective than usual care in addressing dry mouth symptoms and objectively increasing saliva levels. Patients in the control group as well as in the acupuncture group were allowed to have the “usual care” of physical therapy, pain medication, and anti inflammatory drugs according to patient preference or physician recommendation. (JAMA, July 23/30,2008 p 383).
CHINESE HERBS AND ASTHMA
ASHMI, a Chinese preparation comprised of three herbs (a simplification of a fourteen-herb formula used to treat asthma in Chinese hospitals) was found to be almost as effective as prednisone in a comparative study, with none of the negative effects on adrenal function associated with the prednisone. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2005, 116 (3): 517-524).
PREGNANCY, TIMING & GENDER
Women who take longer than 12 months to get pregnant are more likely to give birth to a boy, according to Dutch research which analyzed the data from over 5,000 women. Of the 498 women who took longer than 12 months to get pregnant, 58% gave birth to boys, compared to 51% among women who became pregnant earlier.
The researchers theorize that sperm bearing the male (Y) chromosome swim faster in viscous cervical mucus which is more commonly found in women who have more difficulty becoming pregnant. The findings may also explain why more boys than girls are born (105 boys to 100 girls in most countries), even though human semen holds equal amounts of female (X) bearing and male (Y) bearing sperm. (BMJ 2005;331:1437-1438).
CLOMID AND ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION INEFFECTIVE
The British Medical Journal last month published a study of 580 women in five hospitals in Scotland that found that treatment with either Clomid or artificial insemination provided no benefit for couples trying to conceive. These treatments are widely used in the United States despite the lack of scientific evidence of their effectiveness.
In an accompanying article, researchers from the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, said because of the incentives for physicians to treat despite lack of evidence, many couples with unexplained infertility endure "expensive, potentially hazardous, and often unnecessary treatments". (BMJ, August 7, 2008)
KAVA EFFECTIVE FOR MILD ANXIETY DISORDERS WITH SOME CAUTIONS
Kava, a plant in the pepper family traditionally used as a tribal inebriant and for its relaxing effect, is comparable to commonly prescribed medication for mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder.
However, the root is the most effective part, and there is evidence that stems and leaves contain liver toxic components. Avoiding any preparation that contains anything other than roots is therefore recommended.
Patients who have liver disease should probably avoid kava use. Kava can also, theoretically, increase the blood levels of other drugs used to treat anxiety disorders, so combining kava with benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors should also be avoided, or the dosages of these pharmaceuticals should be reduced. (American Family Physician, August 15th, 2008 p. 433)
QIGONG, TAI CHI & DIABETES
A pilot study funded by the Diabetes Australia Research Trust and carried out by a team from the University of Queensland has indicated that qigong and tai chi exercises can significantly improve several markers of metabolic syndrome.
At the end of the three-month study, the 11 participants demonstrated significant improvement in several indicators of metabolic syndrome including HbA1c, blood pressure, bodyweight and waist circumference. (www.researchaustralia.com.au).
THE EFFECTS OF RELATIONSHIP ANGER TO HEALING
Couples whose relationships are fundamentally hostile heal significantly more slowly than non hostile couples. In a study of 42 healthy couples, the rate of wound (blister) healing and local cytokine production was measured daily. Hostile couples were found to heal at 60% of the rate of more friendly couples. (Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:1377-1384).
MENOPAUSE & TWINS
Early menopause is much more common among twins than among non-twins. Premature ovarian failure (by age 45) was found in 15% of female identical and non-identical twins, compared to 5% among the general population, whilst premature ovarian failure (by age 40) was found in 5% of female twins, compared to 1% among the general population. (American Society for Reproductive Medicine Conference, Montreal, October 2005).
SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS
Swimming with dolphins really does seem to lift the mood and counter depression. Of 30 patients with mild to moderate depression, half were randomly assigned to swim and snorkel with dolphins, play with them and help take care of them, for an hour a day over two weeks, while the other half simply swam and snorkeled for the same amount of time.
All participants discontinued antidepressant drugs or psychotherapy at least four weeks before entering the study, and were not allowed to take drugs during the study. Depression scores were measured before the study and at the end of treatment. The average severity of the depressive symptoms was more reduced in the experimental group than in the control group. (BMJ 2005;331:1231).
CHRONIC ILLNESS POORLY TREATED BY PRESENT MEDICAL SYSTEM
A study by the Center for Studying Health System Change concluded that the “system’s current focus on acute or episodic conditions results in inefficient and fragmented care.” chronic diseases account for 70 percent of U.S. deaths and 75 percent of the country’s $2 trillion in medical costs. The report cites payment reform as critical to correcting these problems. (http://www.aafp.org/news-now/professional-issues/20080716hsc-reform.html).
Ed note: Oriental medicine is uniquely capable of addressing the ever-changing manifestations of chronic disease, given its emphasis on long-term patient physician relationships, and preventative and corrective medical methods. Understanding an individual’s unique response to both the disease process and response to treatment is not possible in a six (or more) patients an hour feed-the-fat-cats business model.
Organizations such as the Center for Studying Health System Change ignore the reality that all systems of third party “payment reform” have demonstrably weakened the commitments and continuity of the physician patient relationship. Being themselves fat-cat funded, these “think tanks” will continue to recommend ever more destructive modifications to an already fatally distorted system.
Third party employer or government-based systems forces patients to change practitioners on a regular basis, dooming any chance of creating a long-term therapeutic relationship or addressing the issues of chronic disease effectively.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES & PROSTATE CANCER
Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer who radically change their lifestyle can improve the course of the disease. A study of 93 men randomly assigned them to usual care or to an experimental group that required them to adopt a vegetarian diet and to take part in exercise and meditation practice.
Changes in serum PSA and prostate cancer cell growth from baseline to 12 months were significantly different between the groups, showing more favorable changes in the experimental group. After following the men for a year, the investigators found that none of those in the experimental group but six in the control group underwent conventional prostate cancer treatment due to a rise in serum PSA. (J Urol. 2005;174:1065-1070).
PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING IN DOUBT
The two main tests for prostate cancer (a blood test for prostate specific antigen/PSA, and a digital rectal exam) may essentially be useless, according to a new study which found no difference in mortality over an eight year period between men who had been tested and men who had not.
The men who were tested may then have gone on to have surgery and/or radiation, which can cause incontinence and impotence. The majority of men with high PSA levels who undergo biopsies do not have prostate cancer while some men develop prostate cancer despite low PSA levels. (Archives of Internal Medicine 2006; 166:38-43)
WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO BEST PREDICTOR OF HEART DISEASE
A higher waist-to-hip ratio (i.e. a larger waist compared to hip) is a better predictor of heart disease than body mass index. The findings were based on a study over 27,000 people in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. (Lancet 2005; 366:1640-1649).
OLDER PEOPLE SHOULD AVOID SLEEPING PILLS
The risks and side-effects for older people (over 60) of taking sleeping pills and other sedatives may outweigh the advantages. Between 5% and 33% of older people take sleeping pills, but a meta-analysis of 24 studies has found that negative symptoms such as dizziness, loss of balance, falling and disorientation probably outweigh the advantages of improved sleep. (BMJ 2005;331:1169).
CONTRACEPTIVE PILL & LIBIDO
Taking oral contraceptives may damage a woman’s libido for life. A recent study compared three groups of women; those who had taken the pill for six months or more and who were still taking it, those who had taken the pill for at least six months and who were no longer taking it, and those who had never taken the pill.
The study tested levels of testosterone (which drives sexual desire) and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which is stimulated by the pill and further reduces testosterone. Levels of testosterone were markedly reduced in women still taking the pill whilst SHBG levels were four times higher in women taking the pill compared to never-users.
Among those who had stopped taking the pill, SHGB levels were still raised compared to never-users, suggesting that “Long-term sexual, metabolic, and mental health consequences might result as a consequence of chronic SHBG elevation”. (Journal of Sexual Medicine 2006; vol. 3: 104).
A HEALTHY DIET FOR THE HEART
A high carbohydrate/low saturated fat diet is known to be beneficial for preventing heart disease. To see if this diet could be improved, US researchers assigned 164 adults with hypertension or prehypertension to one of three diets: i. A high-carbohydrate/low saturated fat diet, ii. A similar diet with higher amounts of protein (half from plant sources), and iii. A similar diet with high amounts of unsaturated (mostly monounsaturated such as olive oil or nuts) fat.
All three diets resulted in reductions of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, but the higher protein and higher unsaturated fat diets outperformed the high carbohydrate diet on both measures. (JAMA 2005;294:2455-2464).
"What Were They Thinking?" Department
BACK TO THE U.S.S.A.
With the astonishing statement by a sitting president that “The market is not functioning normally” and cowardly warnings that the "entire economy is in danger", an amazing doubling of the national budget is being orchestrated for the benefit of America’s ruling plutocracy.
It is difficult to imagine a more audacious plan to exploit fear in order to appropriate wealth and power for a few robber barons and their government lackeys. Truly, a new age of diminished character has arrived in Washington.
The same poisonous greed and unimpeded self-interest led to the crippling of our medical system: Social engineering policy created tax benefits for handing over the control of our welfare and health to third party fat-cats.
Citizens are soon to be treated to a return to the failed philosophy of centralized economic control and corruption that was best exemplified by the Soviet Union.
In view of the fact that the number one factor distorting our markets is incompetent and greed ball government interference, the concept that more government intervention (and a truly astronomical amount of debt) will correct the failures of previous interference is remarkably absurd.
Before committing 700 billion dollars to the creation of an unaccountable market manipulation machine, one might consider how well centralized control has worked for medicine.
A recent investigation into durable medical equipment fraud at the Medicare program indicated that improper payments were made nearly 30% of the time, at a cost of about 2.7 billion dollars. Not surprisingly, an “auditor” hired by Medicare to investigate this problem initially under-estimated the rate of fraud by 400%. (American Medical News Sept 15, 2008 p 5)
Medicare identification numbers of deceased physicians were used to scam 77 to 92 million dollars of this amount, according to a July 2008 congressional report. The report indicates that government regulators knew about the use of dead doctor credentials in 2001 and failed to take any corrective action.
Predictably, our ever-vigilant elected representatives are now outraged and shocked: Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs' investigations subcommittee that issued the report, says: "The slipshod procedures that let these claims get through are an insult to U.S. taxpayers. It is long overdue to shut the door on this multimillion-dollar abuse." (USA today)
More insults to the taxpayer are in preparation. Durable medical equipment is only one small part of the Medicare budget of 427 billion dollars. This program only covers 41 million Americans presently. Ineptitude and monetary waste in the Veteran’s administration and Medicaid programs is equally widespread.
How likely will regulation of the financial markets protect citizens if regulatory responsibilities for public health have failed? Vast sums are wastefully flowing to regulatory agencies who cannot or will not protect the public.
The most recent absurdities include the failure of the EPA to regulate known toxins in the water supply, such as perchlorate. It will be next century before the EPA addresses pharmaceutical drug and diagnostic radioactive pollution from major medical centers. (CNN)
Closely related is the failure of the FDA to recognize and act upon the dangers of endocrine disruptors in our environment and drinking water. The motivation of such ineptitude is clearly to protect and absolve fat-cat industries of any responsibility for the massive levels of disease that will someday be irrefutably linked to this type of chemical pollution. (CNN)
Any new “universal health care” proposal will be administered with the same level of incompetence and fraud, and with the same enormous cost. Predictably, the fat-cat friendly AMA is promoting insurance for everyone at www.voicefortheuninsured.org.
Compulsory or universal “insurance” only feeds the profits of “health” plan fat-cats, and doesn’t ensure either access to care or competent care: The Center for Studying Health System Change reports that between 2003 and 2007, access deteriorated for both insured and uninsured people, confirming the need to address the fundamental ineffectiveness of a top down, regulation-based system.
Nonetheless, fat-cat funded “charitable” foundations such as the Robert Wood Johnson foundation can only suggest entrapping more people into servitude to health plan profitability. www.covertheuninsured.org
As long as health plan bureaucrats have authority but no responsibility, and physicians have responsibility but no authority, our medical system will continue to deteriorate. No amount of money will solve this type of fundamental defect, whether in medicine or the financial system.